We have been wanting to redo the chicken coop for a while, but we just didn’t know the best way to go about it. I perused the internet, going from website to website and finally found some good ideas. We started work on it today, but still have a few things to button up before it is completely finished.
The design we had was not working out very well and we learned a few lessons. (1)Don’t put the roosting posts over the exit hatch. The chickens poop during the night and then walk through it as you let them out in the morning. You would think we would have thought of that before placing them there in the first place. It was a rookie farmer mistake. (2)Make sure your nesting boxes are big enough for the hen to sit in comfort. The hens didn’t seem to want to lay eggs in the ones we had because I believe they were too cramped, but I could be wrong. Instead they wanted to lay them in a corner under the nesting boxes. They had the right idea, just the wrong place. (3)Straw is not the best floor covering. Wood shavings seem to work better and stay cleaner, although we will continue to put straw in the nesting boxes.
We moved the nesting boxes from the far wall and hung them on the side wall. We removed three of the dividers that separated the individual boxes to make them roomier. Instead of six boxes we now have three which is plenty for the amount of hens using them. We also put a rail across the front for the hens to jump up on before getting in the boxes. Hopefully this will help clean their feet of some debris before settling in to lay their eggs.
Next we put the roosts over on the back wall where the nesting boxes had previously been. We made them from 2x4s and graduated them down like bleachers. These 2x4s are better than the 1x2s we originally had. The chickens won’t have to hang on and can rest on the roost flat footed. It seems like that would be more comfortable.
We plan to build a box under the roosts which will be covered with chicken wire so the chickens can’t get down inside of it and scratch around. The waste will fall down into the wood shaving filled box, thus keeping the chickens from walking through it. Some people have the roosts on a hinge so that they can be lifted up and then clean out the box. We have limited room so I think we are going to have it designed with a removable door on the bottom.
Hopefully this will resolve some of the problems we have been having and the chickens will like the changes.
Note: Sonny and I just went out to close up the chickens for the night. When we went inside Roo Roo was up on the new roosts with three of the hens and the young pullets were running around in circles lost as to where they should sleep. We found two of the hens in the pole barn, one up on the tractor and the other one on a bale of straw. I can see this change may take some getting used to and could affect egg laying for a few days. We were able to catch the two confused hens and put them up on the roosts as well as the pullets. Hopefully everyone will now know where the new sleeping quarters are located.